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What Happens When We Don’t Say "No"

The other day I wrote about “Crazy Schedules or Learning to Say “No.” I wrote that we need to pray and ask God what He wants us to do and allow Him to control our schedules. And, we must learn to say “No.” Because there will be things that we will want to do, or feel we need to do, and God will say “no.” And we will still want to or feel we need to do whatever it is. What happens when God says “No” but we say “Yes?”

First and most obvious, we rebel against what God says and when we rebel, we sin.

“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” I Samuel:22-24.

Once we sin, our relationship to God suffers. Perhaps we don’t feel as close to Him as we did before. There used to be a saying “If God doesn’t seem close, guess who moved?” – or something to that effect. What it means is that if God doesn’t seem close, it’s not because He moved or He did something to separate Himself from us, but rather we did something to separate ourselves from Him.

In that separation, we leave ourselves open to what I call “sneaky snake attacks.” These are attacks that, had we not been in a broken relationship with God, we would have recognized them and been able to stand against them. OR maybe the enemy wouldn’t have tried because our relationship with God was so tight, he would have known there was no attack he could bring against us that would penetrate that relationship.

What’s the solution? It is very obvious: Repent of our sin and ask God to forgive us. The beautiful thing is that God stands ready and waiting to extend forgiveness to us as soon as we ask. When we receive God’s forgiveness, our relationship is restored.

Does that mean that we are “off the hook?” Not necessarily. Paul tells us in Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Simply put, if you “sow” sin, you will “reap” the consequences.

But here’s the thing: if your relationship with God is restored, He will be with you as you walk through those consequences. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather walk through those consequences with God, than without Him.

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Crazy Schedules or How To Say "NO"

This blog was originally posted in May, 2009. The thoughts expressed remain true today!

It has been very challenging of late to post blogs. I’m not gifted with being able to sit down and write about anything within just a few minutes. I have to think about it, ponder over it, pray about it, meditate – in other words – for me, a blog’s formation usually takes several days.

Today is different because I’m writing about being busy and the need to slow down – which seems to be God’s theme for me this year. But I don’t think that lesson has reached my brain or heart yet.

I don’t know of anyone who is not busy these days. Even my friends who are not employed outside the home are busy with their kids’ schedules, their husbands, their homes and their interests. It’s almost impossible to imagine them working outside the home.

For those of us who do have a 9-5 job, and a husband/kids, house, etc., anything extra can feel like a burden if we allow it. Currently, I am in a writer’s group that I dearly love (see most recent post), I belong to a critique group where each member submits a chapter twice a week to be critiqued, I’m judging two writers contests and am scheduled to begin judging books (entire length) for the most prestigious book award given to fiction writers. Not to mention the fact that I need to be working on MY OWN writing! 🙂 When I list it like that, it may not sound like much to do – especially compared to some of your schedules. But I put a lot of time into reading/reviewing entries for writing contests. These contests are extremely important to those who enter. In some cases, writers enter their work for the feedback: what can they learn from the judges’ comments. There are writers who enter for the hope of winning the prize money; other writers enter hoping for that elusive publishing contract. It takes me 2-3 hours to judge the first two chapters of books that are entered by the authors. I can’t imagine how long it will take me to judge an entire book! And, by the way, I’m not complaining here. I love being a judge for writing contests, Many times, I learn (or re-learn) something – or I’m able to share writing information with the author that will hopefully help then improve their writing skills.

So, why all the whining, you ask? I’m not whining. Here’s the point I want to make: I (and I suspect many of you) have to learn to say NO. But there’s a step before that: Pray and ask God what does He want me/you to do. Will this work in His plans for me/you for this day/week/month? Will we have time to do these extra things and do an excellent job, as unto the Lord? If the answer is “Yes” then go for it. If the answer is “No” then force yourself to say “No.” There will be other times you can participate in the activities you want to.

COMING UP IN THE NEXT BLOG: What happens when you don’t say “No?”

cook-out, freedom, give thanks, remember

Memorial Day Musings

This blog was first posted on May 25, 2009. My son has been off active duty (“Once a Marine, Always a Marine!”) for several years. I am thankful every day for his safe return.

Today is Memorial Day. It is the day set aside once a year to remember those valiant men and women who have fought for the freedom of all American citizens and who paid the ultimate price for our freedom – death in the line of duty.
Unfortunately, many Americans, myself included, see this day as the “first official day of the summer season,” a day to finish those odd and end jobs around the house that we started sometime last year, a day to gather with family and friends for the first cookout of the season or a day to relax and rest before our summer activities begin. Don’t misunderstand me — there is nothing wrong with any of these pursuits! The problem is we do these things to the exclusion of the true purpose of the holiday – – honoring the men and women who gave their life so that the United States of America continues to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
This day has nothing to do with our political affiliation. It doesn’t matter if we agreed with past administrations and past wars or the current administration and the current war and conflicts. This day has everything to do with taking time to remember and to give thanks that we live in a nation that, despite all of her flaws and problems, (and there are many) is still the greatest nation on the earth.
Today, at 3:00 PM EST, Americans are being urged to take the time to give thanks for our freedom and for the men and women who have made that possible. No matter what I’m doing this afternoon at 3PM, I will stop and thank God for my freedom and for those who have made that freedom possible. I will also thank Him for our current military serving in posts around the world. Please consider taking a moment and joining with me in prayer!
This blog is dedicated to my son, Sgt. Anthony Kyle Bond, currently serving in the United States Marine Corps, in New Orleans, LA. Kyle has served two tours in Iraq. Kyle, I love you, and I am so very proud of you! Thank you for what you have done to ensure the freedom of all Americans!
(c) 2009 Edwina E. Cowgill

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My Lists, My Calendar, My God

This blog was originally posted in November, 2001

I belong to a local writers group and a few months ago, we decided to divide the group into those interested in writing fiction and those interested in writing nonfiction. Because I am attempting to write a nonfiction, I was put “in charge” of that group. The goal of each meeting is to write, write, write.

The nonfiction group met this past Monday at my home and we talked, talked, talked! We discussed writing topics, we critiqued stories that members had brought and shared writing information we had learned. We didn’t write a single word. And that’s okay. Sometimes a detour from the agenda is what we need.

This makes me think of how God changes our “agenda.” I am a Type A personality and I live by my lists and my calendar. Before the holidays arrive, I’m planning and writing menus, writing out shopping lists, I make a list of serving dishes to be used and what food will be served in what dish, the Christmas card list, the Christmas gift list. You name a holiday list, and I can guarantee I either use said list now or have used it in the past.

My every day is usually controlled by my to-do lists both at work and at home. I keep a “rolling to-do” list that is broken down further into tasks, phone calls to make, computer work and other.

And because I’m Type A, I go absolutely nuts when I’m pulled away from my list(s) to do something that is not on said lists. God excels in pulling me away. Because I am focused and “list-driven” there have been times when God had to use major, attention-grabbing methods to get my eyes off of the task at hand and back on Him. After several of these instances, it occurred to me that God didn’t care whether or not I had a list. He cared about whether or not I was doing His will at that moment.

One of the writers attending the meeting Monday night addressed this issue. “I don’t make to-do lists,” she said. “When I get up in the morning, I ask God what He wants me to do first. When I finish that task, I sit down. I quiet myself before God and I ask Him what He wants me to do next. I do this all through the day until it’s time to go to bed. This way I am assured of always doing what God wants me to do.”

By the time she finished talking, I was going into withdrawal.  Stop using lists? No calendar? I began to hyperventilate. Okay. Easy girl. Deeeep breath. Deeeep breath. In and out. There you go. All better, now? Just because she schedules her day that way, doesn’t mean I have to do it the same way. Does it?

After the ladies left, I thought back over the conversation. If I agree with Psalm 118:24 that states “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it,” and I do agree with it, it makes sense to also acknowledge Psalm 31:15a “My times are in your hands.” Am I so ignorant to think that relying on God (rather than lists) to order my day would cause me to have an unsuccessful day? God has my (and your) best interests at heart. It is humanly impossible for me to complete what’s on my to-do list every day. “But with God all things are possible.” Does that mean he’ll help me conquer my to-do list every day? No. It means that I will accomplish that which He directs me to do.

How do you plan your day? Lists, calendars, Blackberry, iPad? Or perhaps you’re a “panster.” You “fly by the seat of your pants” moving forth with no plan. Or maybe you’re like my writer friend who always consults God on what to do before starting any task.

I have challenged myself that I will do this for the next 30 days. Every morning for the next 30 days, before I start my day, I will ask God what he wants me to do first. And I’ll do that first; when that is completed, I’ll ask him what’s next.

If you’re interested in joining me in this challenge, leave me a comment. We can all cheer each other on!
Blessings!!
Come away, quiet time, rest

Come Away, My Beloved

This blog was orginally posted in September,2011

My sweet hubby and I were blessed to be able to get away this weekend. We didn’t know how badly we needed to get away until we got here. Because of his illnesses, my sleep – or the lack thereof – his sleep – or the lack thereof – my schedule, my new business, on and on ad naseum, we are lucky some days to see each other for an hour. So we’ve come away for a few days to spend time together, to talk, to pray, to sleep late – well, at least he can sleep late, to laugh together – all the things that we love to do together and yet we’ve allowed LIFE to control what we do.

All of us need to get away sometimes – married couples, friends, or by ourselves. It is a time to rest, refresh and rejuvenate. It’s a time to get to know one another again, or to get yourself again. It is a time to renew your relationship with God, or to take that relationship to a deeper level.

Jesus knew the importance of getting away. After ministering to crowds, he would go away to spend time with His Father, to pray, to listen to His Father, to refresh and renew.

God knows the importance of getting away. In the eighth chapter of the Song of Solomon, He says to His Beloved (the church) “Come away, My Beloved.” He wants us to take time away from our busy schedules, from LIFE, and sit in a quiet place and talk with him.  He is not asking us to leave town – although at times that is necessary – but just to find a quiet  place to “get away” for a while. It can be your porch, a local park, perhaps even a quiet room at your church.

“Come away my beloved,” He asks of you. What’s holding you back?

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"God Wants You to Know"

Many of you are my “friends” on Facebook. I don’t have the time I used to have to spend on Facebook but I will go there a couple of times a week just to catch up with what’s going on. I don’t play the games or participate in any of the other activities available. But I do subscribe to one application titled “God Wants You to Know.”
“God Wants You to Know” is a very interesting app. It is a daily message of encouragement. There are times when the message has absolutely nothing to do with me and what I’m going through at that time. Often, the message is generic enough to apply to me and everyone else. And occasionally, the encouraging message is just what I need to hear. How that happens, I have no idea and I’m definitely not saying these messages are “words from the Lord.” Still, I find some encouraging. And we can all use encouragement. Here is yesterday’s message:
“On this day of your life, Edwina, we believe God wants you to know…that you can’t hide your shortcomings from God. Failures, weaknesses and fears; God knows them all. Many people attempt to hide issues from God, but it is futile. Seems like a bummer until you realize that God loves you anyway; unconditionally, immeasurably and infinitely.”
Even though these messages are encouraging, here is what God really wants you to know:
Psalm 139:1-18: “You have searched me, O Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light  become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you., For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.”
Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
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Receive God’s Blessing: The Law of the Lord

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3 New International Version)

When we are obedient to God’s word, and we study His Word – know it – understand it – live it, God blesses us for that. Not that we are obedient to keep His laws just so we may receive His blessings. We are obedient out of our love for Him and His love for us.

Father God, thank You for Your Word. We thank You for the wisdom and guidance contained therein. Help us to always be a student of Your word – not because of the blessings You give us, but so we may know You more intimately and walk closer with You. In Your precious name, Amen.